We often start to learn mindfulness skills by focusing our attention on our breath, our bodies, the environment or activities. We can practise being mindful, and eventually, we can learn to start being mindful of our emotions.

Being mindful of emotions helps us to stand back from the emotion, understand it, accept it, not to fear it or struggle against it, and it can have the added benefit of reducing the distress (although the aim is to learn to accept the experience, rather than lessen the distress).

Set aside a few minutes when you can be quiet and undisturbed.

Start by bringing your attention to your breath. Notice your breathing as you slowly breathe in and out, perhaps imagining you have a balloon in your belly, noticing the sensations in your belly as the balloon inflates on the in-breath, and deflates on the out-breath.

Notice the feelings, and what it feels like.


Name the emotion

  • What is it?
  • What word best describes what you are feeling?
  • Angry, sad, anxious, irritated, scared, frustrated etc

Accept the emotion. It is a normal body reaction. It can be helpful to understand how it came about.  What it was, the set of circumstances that contributed to you feeling this way. Do not condone or judge the emotion. Simply let it move through you without resisting it, struggling against it, or encouraging it.

Investigate the emotion

  • How intensely do you feel it?
  • How are you breathing?
  • What are you feeling in your body? Where do you feel it?
  • What is your posture like when you feel this emotion?
  • Where do you notice muscle tension?
  • What is your facial expression? What does your face feel like?
  • Is anything changing? (nature, position, intensity)

What thoughts or judgements do you notice? Just notice those thoughts. Allow them to come into your mind, and allow them to pass. Any time you find that your mind is engaging with the thoughts, by  judging them or yourself for having them, believing them, struggling against them:  just notice, and bring your attention back to your breathing, and to the physical sensations of the emotion.

If any other emotions come up, if anything changes, simply notice and repeat the steps above. Just notice that the feelings change over time.

As you become more practised, you can use this mindfulness technique when you feel more intense emotion.


NOW: Mindfulness Exercise - video


APPLE: A Mindful Response to Thoughts and Feelings - video


Mindful Breathing

NOW - Mindfulness for Busy People

APPLE:  A mindful response to thoughts and feelings

The Visitor  Mindfulness exercise

Mindfulness Rationale


Mindfulness of Emotions - this page as PDF

SELF HELP BOOKS using Mindfulness

Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world

The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Depression

The Mindful Way through Anxiety: Break Free from Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life

The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free From Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry  

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness meditation for everyday life

Full Catastrophe Living, Revised Edition: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life